Newton cancels school for 9th day as contract negotiations drag on

NEWTON, Mass. — Students who attend Newton Public Schools will be missing classes again for a ninth day as contract negotiations between the city’s School Committee and the Newton Teachers Association drag on.

Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller joined them at the bargaining table around 9:15 p.m. Tuesday night for the first time since the teachers’ strike began.

Fuller joined the bargaining table at the request of the chair of Newton’s School Committee but said anything more than what’s being offered would result in layoffs.

Newton School Committee chair Chris Brezski said an improved offer was made to the union that improves compensation for all employees, “acutely focused on providing incremental compensation for unit 3 aides.”

“It makes me question if the union really wants a deal. It makes me question what the strike is all about,” said Brezski. “Is it about some other bigger agenda? One where our kids are being used as pawns?”

Now, a second family is trying to stop the strike with legal action, and calling on larger fines for the teachers union.

Allison Goldberg and her husband said they filed a motion to intervene.

They asked the judge to order more severe economic sanctions against the teachers union and/or order the arrest of NTA President Mike Zilles for criminal contempt of court.

They called this a last resort.

“I don’t think there is one parent out here that doesn’t want the best for our schools and our students but our children are not pawns in this game of chess. 8 days out of school is 8 days too many,” said Allison Goldberg.

The Goldbergs are part of a newly formed parents group, “Kids First Newton,” who want to see kids back in school.

Fellow parent Lital Asher-Dotan filed a lawsuit earlier this week, claiming the strike has had “severely detrimental effects” on her children’s education and overall well-being.

The Newton Teachers Association said it remains committed to resolving a contract but is worried that negotiations have officially come to a standstill.

“Today, the school committee has told us what we have always known to be the case,” said Ryan Normandin, before Mayor Fuller joined the table. “They will no longer be bargaining with us. They are done.”

The sticking points include not only pay raises but also getting social workers into schools, reduced class sizes, and an updated parental leave policy.

Meanwhile, other parents still stand strong in support of the teachers union.

“I stand with our educators 10,000 percent no matter how long it takes to get a fair contract,” said Jess Champion. “I’m shocked at the rhetoric villainizing our teachers. They’ve been working without a contract all year, and now they’re being painted as the bad guys for putting their foot down and demanding to be taken seriously.”

Lindsey Gulden added, “We are proud to stand with the teachers as they fight for what’s right, even when it’s hard.”

The strike has left a community divided over the impact that the strike has had on kids missing school.

The Newton City Council stood united earlier in the evening in pleading for a resolution to be reached once and for all.

“The teachers, the school committee, [and] those providing funding need to be at the table today, tonight, however long it takes to get us back together,” said City Council President Marc Laredo.

Laredo reminded the public that city council members are not directly involved in negotiations.

However, he said that the Newton City Council collectively believes the latest proposal seems “fair and reasonable”.

“The key to a successful negotiation is everyone leaves a little bit unhappy, and that’s okay. That means you’ve done a good job,” he told Boston 25 News after the news conference.

The ongoing strike in Newton is the longest teachers’ strike in Massachusetts since the 90s.

So far, the Newton Teacher’s Association has been fined $475,00 for the illegal strike.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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